CAPS Utd could have built a dynasty of success Charles Mhlauri

Charles Mhlauri Special Correspondent
THERE were many talented players in the Premiership in 2004 and 2005 but I was happy with the depth we had created at CAPS United.

This meant I never looked outside our Academy for players.

We had developed an active group of kids that was very talented and they could compete against some of the talented teams in the league. Our Academy team, during their initiation, held a full-strength Dynamos team at the National Sports Stadium and went on to embarrass some top teams in Cup games.

My focus was on their gradual integration into the first team and, to support my point, they went on to play for the national team, the likes of Lionel Mutizwa, Oscar Machapa and Washington Pakamisa.

I had all hands on deck with the Academy, was not looking outside that project, remember, when I took over, I started by creating long-term structures and developmental programmes for the club and established the CAPS Academy.

That concept guarantees long-term success and I avoided the trap of trying to create a good team and went for building a good club.

I was not a results-driven coach. I have always taken great pride in seeing players develop. At Phinda Mzala I coached some juniors who also went on to do very well — the likes of Mike Zivira, Malvern Ntini, Richard Choruma, Kelvin Maseko, Bekithemba Ndlovu, Mephias Webb, Gift Lunga (Jnr).

At AmaZulu, as founder and coach, I helped develop Ronald Sibanda before he went to Zimbabwe Saints and reunited with him at AmaZulu in the Premiership and national team. At Amazulu I developed Esrom Nyandoro, Voster Chitema, Golding Dube, James Phiri, etc

At CAPS I wanted to build stability and consistency, the Academy or “centre of excellence” then helped us modernise CAPS approach in line with trends world over which then was not very common.

The Academy created a long lifespan and loyalty. CAPS were now not just a team. It was now a club and family with proper structures.

The Academy players had mentors in the senior squad. Every position had a player or two in the Academy ready to step in. Lloyd (Chitembwe), as the senior player already, we had Tichaona Nyenda, Lionel Mtizwa, and Oscar Machapa prepared to step in.

We developed many juniors, including Lionel (Mtizwa), Oscar Machapa), (Tichaona) Nyenda, Pakamisa, (Takesure) Chiragwi, (Danger) Fourpence, (Masset) Zengeni.

CAPS were now well ahead of its time. There was mutual respect in the dressing room and a unity of purpose. CAPS could have performed at the same level for about another five to 10 years if there was proper continuation and integration.

Despite the considerable success we were already working on rebuilding and this was achieved comfortably on a meagre budget.

What was vital for me, when I took over, was to do a root to branch overhaul systematically.

I also travelled extensively to find the right players that could fit into my vision, from Wankie I brought in Milos (Phiri), and Witness (Mnkhuli). At Dynamos we were able to get Cephas Chimedza and Mbare-born Raymond Undi. From Zambia we got Ian Bakala and Laughter (Chilembe).

I managed to stop Ashley (Rambanepasi) from going to Shabanie, down the road we were able to pluck Joseph Kamwendo and Haji Tambala.

My plan was not to build a strong team but to build a strong club. Remember I took over after running battles between supporters and executives during the days of Fewdays Musona. It was a house on fire but we managed to stabilise it by putting all systems in place.  I held many meeting with supporters in the VIP Bar and the executives. We were headed in the right direction until that disastrous trip to the UK.

There is no doubt in my mind that what we had put together was a formidable club that after David (Sengu), Silent (Katumba), Elton (Chimedza), Raymond (Undi), Artwell (Mabhiza) and Nyenda (stayed behind) there was still life.

I still believe because of proper planning, we were able to contain the disaster and scrap through to another championship, but credit must go to our long-term plans that were intact. We had also another disappointing experience after playing so well, holding Raja Casablance in Morocco, only to be disqualified on technicality.

That was a cruel blow and it affected the team as well.

Unfortunately, I left to take a full -time position with the national team.

While I was busy on the field, there was a very supportive executive that pulled everything to support my endeavours. In the end, it was a great team effort.

Twine Phiri, Farai Jere, Willard Manyengavana (may his soul rest in peace), Andy Hodges, Ziyambi Ziyambi, Dr Mordecai Sachikonye, all members of the executives, played a big role.

Supporters, led by Abraham Kawadza, Shakespeare Chinogwenya, Maxwell Mironga, Mapfumo Mapfumo, Mudhara Banda and others, after all the meetings we held at the VIP Bar, were all in the trenches.

The most important position was that supporters believed in “The Club Caps United” some were now attending both senior and academy games.

We had now reached the pinnacle of being a club where the technical department, supporters and executive all had the same vision — not driven by results only.

In the Cup tournaments we fielded the academy and the supporters we fully behind the project.

We lost to Highlanders in that 3-4 game and, again, we had the supporters impressed and singing and dancing and thanking the players for a good showing.

On another day, that could have seen some fighting with the crowd angry but we were now there, the confidence and vision was now there and, we could have gone far.

Charles Mhlauri is a former CAPS United coach, the only gaffer to guide the Green Machine to more than one league title, and said this in an interview with our Senior Sports Editor, ROBSON SHARUKO, from his base in Massachusetts, United States of America.

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